Fishing is a local industry we are rightly proud of, and rail is key to our area’s continuing successful regeneration. I am campaigning hard to deliver success for both.
This Government is pursuing policies to correct historic wrongs of quota allocation as well as to provide for a sustainable future for our country’s fish stocks.
I welcome the forthcoming discard ban and the accompanying quota uplift, but more must be done to protect the livelihoods of local fishermen.
Firstly, we need to ensure that quota uplift benefits smaller fishing vessels, those which make up our area’s fleets, instead of the large producer organisations who have historically enjoyed far too much allocation at the great expense of our local fishermen.
Secondly, a discard ban will protect against the worst excesses of waste in the fishing industry.
However, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to regulation would damage small, artisanal fisheries such as Rye. The Rye fleet already fishes in a sustainable manner; they discard juvenile fish which are largely worthless to the fishermen due to their small size.
A very large proportion of these fish survive being discarded, and they go on to breed and secure the future of the fishery.
Therefore, a blanket discard ban on Rye sole and plaice would force our fishermen to use up their already restrictive quota landing near-worthless fish which would otherwise be breeding and ensuring the long-term future of the species.
I am working with Defra to make these issues known and to find a solution where the discard ban protects fishing stocks as well as this vital local industry.
Investment in rail can help our area realise its potential for greater economic growth and prosperity.
Last Friday a report on the predicted economic impact of an extension of high speed rail to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill was launched. Its authors concluded that the project was a better than a once in a generation opportunity for our area.
I will continue my campaign to bring this investment to our region.
I encourage local people and businesses to lobby me, your councils and the Department for Transport to make it plain how important a high speed rail connection is from London, via Ashford, to Rye, Hastings and Bexhill.
Also, I am stepping up my efforts to encourage Southern to extend their Unizone ticket to Hastings.
The exclusion of the Hastings campus of the University of Brighton from the zone means that our students pay more for their studies and are not fully integrated into the central university community.
Last week I met with representatives of the University and its students’ union, and together we hope to help deliver cheaper rail fares for our area’s students.